Learning To Talk To Girls

Moshe Schulman left an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in New York and found himself learning how to do much of what we take for granted, such as talking to members of the opposite sex. In a poignant essay, he describes falling for an Orthodox Jewish girl he was eventually forbidden to see:

I couldn’t take my eyes off of the girl in the FBI shirt, while she ate her pizza. I wondered why she was wearing a shirt that said FBI. But I hoped that her secular clothes meant that she had left the fold, too. She had crystal-blue eyes and a beautiful smile. I wondered if this was love. I had learned the word "love" six years earlier, when my grandmother yelled at me for signing a letter I wrote to her, "Sincerely, Moshe." I didn’t understand why that upset her. Growing up, my parents and seven siblings didn’t hug me or use the word "love." Instead, they yelled and hit. To feel warmth, I wore layers upon layers of clothing or lay down on the carpet where the sun was shining.